Friday, December 28, 2018

Cheese Popcorn: A New Year's Eve Snack

WARNING: Neon yellow fingers are a side effect of this snack.

But it's worth it. And it will make your New Year's Eve celebration merrier ... and tastier!

I've always loved cheddar popcorn. Well, let me qualify that. I've always loved the taste of the high-dollar cheddar popcorn at specialty stores. However, the inexpensive metal tins with three different popcorns just didn't satisfy. And my efforts to make a copycat version of the gourmet variety had always fallen short ... until this year.

My friend, Kim Baldwin, who raises Papa Baldy's popcorn with her in-laws, Dwight and Cindy Baldwin in McPherson County, posted a photo showing cheddar popcorn on their Facebook page before Christmas. So I asked her to share their recipe.
First of all, I highly recommend Papa Baldy's. (This is an unsolicited endorsement.) They just harvested their second crop of jumbo mushroom popcorn this past September. I've traded in my microwave popcorn for popping this Kansas-grown product on top of the stove.

But, back to the cheddar popcorn.

You need to find cheddar cheese powder. If all else fails, you can open boxes of macaroni and cheese with the cheese packets and collect enough there. However, if you have a place where you can buy cheddar cheese powder in bulk, that's what I would recommend. I got my cheddar cheese powder at Glenn's Bulk Food. I also found white cheddar powder there. But I didn't think it tasted as "cheesy" as the neon yellow variety, so I went with the "real" deal. Thus, the yellow fingers!

You can also order cheddar cheese powder online. And, I think it would also work to use those smaller containers of cheese flavorings you find near popcorn in the grocery store.

This recipe uses ground mustard. I admit: I was dubious. But maybe that's what was missing in earlier versions I'd tried. 

To put the recipe together, I used my circa 1980s green Tupperware bowl. (They call it a "fix and mix" bowl now.) But, if you don't have that, you can use a large, clean brown paper bag. The sealable bowl is less messy, but do what you have to do to get this done. It's worth it.

Papa Baldy's recipe is similar to one I found that was a copycat of Garrett's Popcorn, which is a Chicago staple.
Garrett's is also famous for combining their cheddar and caramel corns in what they call a "Chicago mix."
For that, I used the caramel corn recipe I've used since high school. (Click here for the recipe and ignore the cheese popcorn one I posted then. This version is much better.)

Cheddar Cheese Popcorn
from Papa Baldy's
3 quarts popped popcorn (from about 1/2 cup kernels)**
4 tbsp. melted butter
3/4 cup cheddar cheese powder
2 tsp. ground mustard powder
Salt to taste (I found I didn't need additional salt)

Pop the popcorn and transfer into a BIG Tupperware-like bowl with a lid or a clean brown bag.

Melt the butter and pour over popcorn. Shake to get all popcorn covered.

Combine dry cheese and ground mustard. Add to buttered popcorn. Shake again.

Salt to taste. I found it didn't need extra salt with the powder I used.

** Kim says that if it's too "wet," you can microwave the popcorn for about 30 seconds. I never found I needed to do that. However, I used 1/4 cup butter-flavored popcorn oil and 2/3 cup popcorn kernels for the butter and the cheddar cheese mix called for, so I probably had more than 3 quarts popcorn. (I didn't measure.)  I thought it made it plenty cheesy.


  1. Yumm! Bookmarking this one for later!

    1. It really is good. My kids also approved!

  2. Looks yummy! Can't say I have ever seen cheese powder... maybe because I have never really looked for it?

    1. As I got to thinking about it, I even remember a cheddar cheese powder in a more slender shaker container when I was a kid. It was near the Parmesan cheese in stores. I haven't seen that version in awhile.

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